Yesterday, the University of Virginia Club Field Hockey team hosted the University of North Carolina and the University of Maryland yesterday at our very own Carr’s Hill Field. The Virginia field hockey team (8-2-1) is currently ranked 10th in the nation, with the outcome of this tournament potential being a measure of the team’s national title aspirations.
Rankings are split up into divisions and goal differentials. Club teams are divided into Division 1 and Division 2, which affects how they are ranked. However, teams will often play against teams in a separate division, but it is weighted differently in the ranking process.
After an impressive win against the University of North Carolina, Virginia’s competition was intensified in the 1:30 game against Maryland. After an intense play, the game resulted in a tie.
The games themselves are an hour long, divided into two halves. Each team features 10 players and a goalie on the field with regular substitutions in between plays. Each player keeps a position, similar to that of ice hockey or soccer, dividing themselves into forwards, midfielders, and defensive players.
“I’m very happy with my decision to join the team, it’s fun,” commented Selma Pulak, a first year student who joined the team just recently.
As is common in team sports, much of the performance is dictated through communication on the field and a relationship with the other players. After the team lost a significant portion of the athletes to graduation last spring, there was a heavy emphasis placed on recruitment to fill those spots and build back the team.
“We lost a lot of good players last year, but the incoming first years are versatile, reliable,” president Vicky Graham said. “We have a strong, well-rounded team this season.”
Virginia had much success recruiting freshman players this season. Out of 27 players on the team, around 15 of them are first years. Such strong freshman interest in the team has been beneficial for the team so far, achieving a winning record and a national ranking, even after a shaky start to the season and a performance at the first home tournament of the season that left the Cavaliers with a losing record.
Despite being rookie players, it is not uncommon for new players on the team to have had field hockey experience before.
“Most players have played in high school and we choose players per season based on experience level as well as interest level,” Graham said. “A lot of players could have been D3 athletes, but chose to play here.”
The potential inexperience of rookie players is overshadowed by the competitive atmosphere from the moment the team steps on the field. Every member of their team has their eye on a National Championship prize. The team has one clear goal in mind for the season.
“We have to qualify first for the championship round, but our goal is to win the whole thing,” President Vicky Graham said.
The team has a past history of qualifying for the championship tournament but consistently coming up short in the final round. A respectable performance, but you can tell that they’re all just itching to finally bring home the trophy. The National Field Hockey League Championship is held in April in Virginia Beach, Virginia.
“We’ve been so close,” Graham commented, “It would just be the cherry on top of a great season with a great team if we could bring home the title.”
If the season carries on like today, the Cavaliers certainly have the potential, the record, and the ranking to earn a National Championship this spring. Only the remaining course of the season will tell.